Accessibility links

Breaking News

#JeSuisCharlie: Charlie Hebdo Attack Sparks Online Solidarity

Numerous journalists and others have expressed solidarity with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the wake of a deadly attack on its offices, with some calling for other media to republish some of its most famous -- and offensive -- cartoons in sympathy with the victims.

The hashtag #jesuischarlie started trending on Twitter in the hours following the January 7 assault that killed at least 12 people, including four of Charlie Hebdo's main cartoonists.

The weekly, known for poking fun at religious and political leaders, is most famous outside France for its issues and cartoons that have lampooned the Prophet Muhammad.

French newspaper Le Figaro used the hashtag to report on a solidarity rally planned for later January 7 in Paris.

Author Salman Rushdie, who spent years under police protection following death threats over his novel The Satanic Verses, joined in, using his Twitter account to tout the value of satire:

Others struck a note of defiance, saying the attack would not silence the media.

And there were some calls for media to reprint some of Charlie Hebdo's famous cartoons -- as well as criticism for those outlets that shied away from showing them in full.

So far, among major media The Daily Beast appears to have been the first to take the plunge.

In the past, many media outlets have been reluctant to publish similar offensive images, putting them in the awkward position of writing and describing something they would not show.

When the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten sparked violent protests among Muslims after publishing a series of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, the were reprinted in major European newspapers from the Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavia, Romania, and Switzerland. But they were not reprinted in any major publications in Canada or Great Britain. In the United States, few major news outlets reprinted the caricatures.

This New Yorker cartoon doing the rounds sums up the media's queasiness:

Stephen Pollard, editor of the UK's Jewish Chronicle, summed up the dilemma:

  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.